You Were Never Really Here

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On the surface, You Were Never Really Here is a brutal story of a war veteran that kills bad people and rescues innocent children. Once you look beneath the surface, however, you quickly realize that it’s much more than that.

The film paints a vivid and relentlessly honest picture of a man suffering from PTSD. The brief glimpses we have of Joe’s (Joaquin Phoenix) past show the many traumatizing scenarios that he’s endured over the course of his life; the violence and horror that he’s witnessed.

Joaquin Pheonix’s acting ability really shines through the character of Joe. His performance brought the film to life, and immediately made me want to know more about this haunted person.

The soundtrack is masterfully composed. The discordant and erratic sounds are an audio narrative of Joe’s broken mind.

The cinematography in this film is dark and gorgeous. What could have been a mundane, violent movie is instead transformed into a piece of art. The scene where Joe takes his mother into the river is especially well done.

You Were Never Really Here doesn’t tell a complicated – or even unique – story, but it tells it from a different vantage point. Joe needed someone to take care of, he needed to be needed. Without his mother, he was lost. Adrift. Finding himself again in Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov) was the awakening that he desperately needed.

The real question is: who rescued whom?

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